Saturday, February 26, 2011

Threnody to the Victims of Freaky Trigger

The 1996 The Simpsons ep. Homerpalooza (which can be viewed here) is a bit of shambles overall but it has a great flashback-centered segment that speaks to almost everyone who's ever felt anything for popular music, one of whose apotheoses is Freaky Trigger's Popular. Here's my abbreviated version of the script for that segment (building on the summary provided here).

Bart: Dad, please, you’re embarrassing us.
Homer: No, I’m not…. Grand Funk Railroad paved the way for Jefferson airplane, which cleared the way for Jefferson starship. The stage was now set for the Alan Parsons project, which I believe was some sort of hovercraft.
Bart: Dad! No one cares about any of your stupid dinosaur bands! You have the worst, lamest taste in music ever.
[turns off the radio]
Homer: I’m just trying to party with you guys.
Bart: Homer, first of all, it’s “par-tay”, and second, we wouldn’t “par-tay” with you if you were the last dad on Earth.

Troubled by being mocked in this way, Homer decides to visit his old favorite music store, formerly named “Good Vibrations” but now renamed “Suicide Notes”. He asks a store clerk where he can find the latest Bread releases and is surprised when the clerk directs him to the oldies section, which to his relief has all the Bread, Styx etc. that he requires. Homer glances up to the posters on the wall.

Homer: Now, here are some of your no-name bands. Sonic Youth? Nine Inch Nails? Hullabalooza?
Clerk: Hullabalooza is a music festival; the greatest music festival of all time.

Homer leaves and walks the street, dejected.

Homer: Why do you need new bands? Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact.

Flashback to the darkest 1970s, where a group of cool/popular/Dazed and Confused-like teens are installing a strobe light in their custom van: Quadraphonic sound, a waterbed, and now a strobe light. A relatively uncool teen Homer looks on.

Head Cool Teen (think Matthew McConnaghey in D&C): Gentlemen, say hello to the second-base mobile.

In a series of strobe flashes (an end of Looking for Mr Goodbar reference - amazing!) teen Homer tries to sidle up to and join in with the cool teens, but he's brushed off. Being an uncool teen wasn't any easier in the '70s than it is now - adult Homer is, to some extent, kidding himself now about how happy he was back then.

Homer (VO): Back then, we didn’t care what anyone thought and the chicks found that irresistible…. But most of all, I remember the music…

Cut to Teen Homer and Teen Barney, in Teen Homer’s room. They butcher “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”, singing in front of a mirror into their hair-brush microphones when Homer’s dad Abe interrupts them.

Abe: What the hell are you two doing?
Teen Barney: It’s called rockin’ out
Teen Homer: You wouldn’t understand because you’re not “with it”.
Abe: I used to be with it, but then they changed what “it” was. Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s “it” seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you [points finger at Teen Homer].

But Teen Homer just glazes over and looks at himself in the mirror in his 1970s pomp.

Teen Homer: We’re gonna keep on rockin’ forever [echoes]… forever… forever…

Cross-fade to adult Homer, at night, looking at his reflection in the mirror in his and Marge's bedroom, disconsolate. Marge sits up in bed.

Marge: What’s wrong, Homie?
Homer: [sighs] I went to the record store today and they were playing all that music I’ve never heard of. It was like the store had gone crazy.
Marge: Hmm. Record stores have always seemed crazy to me, but it doesn’t upset me. Music is none of my business.
Homer: That’s fine for you, Marge, but [sitting on the bed] I used to rock and roll all night and party every day. Then it was every other day. [lies back on bed] Now I’m lucky if I can find half an hour a week in which to get funky. [pause] I’ve gotta get out of this rut, and back into the groove!

For the rest of the show Homer takes Bart and Lisa to Hullabalooza.

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